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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New Jersey via the state courts

2013-OCT: Garden State Equality v. Dow lawsuit.
Groundbreaking polling results. Candidates' debate.
Request for stay of Superior Court ruling denied.

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Earlier information about the case

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In this web site:
"SSM" refers to same-sex marriage;
LGBT refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals

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2013-OCT-08: Fairleigh Dickinson University poll shows almost two in three adults favor same-sex marriage:

A telephone poll was conducted among 702 random registered voters in New Jersey. The margin of error is ±3.7 percentage points. Results were:

  • 62% agreed with the Superior Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey. This is one of the highest levels of support in any U.S. poll we have seen on SSM.
  • 30% disagreed.
  • 9% didn't have an opinon or refused to say. 1

By political party:

  • Democrats: 75% in favor; 18% opposed for a 57 percentage point margin! This is the highest level of favor and margin the we have ever seen in an American poll on SSM
  • Independents: 61% in favor; 31% opposed, for a 30 percentage point margni!
  • Republicans: 46% in favor, 44% opposed. For a 2 percentage point margin.* This is the first time that we have ever seen a plurality of Republicans in favor of SSM.

By gender:

  • Women: 67% in favor, 26% opposed.
  • Men: 55% in favor, 34% opposed.

By race:

  • White: 65% in favor, 27% opposed.
  • Non-white: 55% in favor, 37% opposed.

Governor Chris Christie (R) has achieved a record that to our knowledge is unique in the history of the United States: He has vetoed a bill that:

  • A majority of legislators in the State Senate have already approved.
  • A majority of legislators in the State House have already approved.
  • A majority of Democratic voters approve.
  • A majority of Independent voters approve.
  • A plurality of Republican voters approve. *
  • A majority of voters of all parties approve.

* There was only a 2 percentage point majority among Republicans which is within the margin of error. It is not statistically significant.

In a second question, 62% of those polled would like to have Governor Christie end his appeals to stop marriage equality.

Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University commented:

"The timing of the decision heightens the importance of the issue at a time when the state enters the final days of the Senate, gubernatorial, and legislative elections. Candidates from the top of the ticket to down ballot races will undoubtedly be asked to weigh in on gay marriage for which public opinion is decisive.". 1

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2013-OCT-08: Exchange of comments in a candidates' debate:

Governor Chris Christie (R) is running for re-election on Election Day, NOV-05. He is opposed by the Democratic candidate, State Senator Barbara Buono. As everyone expected, the topic of same-sex marriages came up during the debate:

  • Governor Christie, who vetoed a bill passed by the Legislature that would have legalized SSM repeated his stance that the voters should settle the debate through a plebiscite.

  • Ms. Buono accused him of:

    "compromising the dignity of our gay brothers and sisters,"

    in order to preserve his electability in a Republican primary for President. 2

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2013-OCT-10: Request for a stay is rejected:

The State of New Jersey filed a request wirh Superior Court Judge Jacobson asking that she stay her ruling that same-sex couples could obtain marriage licenses starting on OCT-21.

According to

"The state argued in its appeal that it already provides equal marital rights and benefits to same-sex couples in New Jersey with civil unions, saying any federal benefits or rights deprived to partners in civil unions fall on the shoulders of the federal government, not theirs. 3

Asbury Park Press reported:

"On Friday, [OCT-04] gay rights advocates filed in court arguing that the state has not shown either irreparable harm if wedding licenses can be granted later this month or that it is likely to win on appeal." 4

On OCT-10, she refused to stay her ruling:

"... because of the irreparable harm that would be caused to Plaintiffs by the granting of a delay."

She also wrote:

"Indeed, there is no ‘public interest’ in depriving a class of New Jersey residents their constitutional rights while appellate review is pursued." 5

She repeated her earlier observation that partners stuck in civil unions because the state does not allow them to marry prevents them from having any access to over 1,100 federal marriage benefits. This harms the couples and violates the state Constitution.

CNN stated that:

"Same-sex couples will be able to wed beginning October 21." 3

This was an incorrect statement at the time. There was a strong possibility that Judge Jacobson's order might still be stayed by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Even if her ruling remaind in effect, loving, committed same-sex couples will only be allowed to obtain their marriage licenses on OCT-21. New Jersey law requires a 72 hour waiting period before a marriage license can be used.

As expected, reactions were mixed:

  • Hayley Gorenberg, the deputy legal director of Lambda Legal which represent the plaintiffs in the case said:

    "This is wonderful news! The court’s decision, once again, confirms that the hardships of not being able to marry are real and immediate."

  • John Tomicki, the executive director of the League of American Families, a group opposed to marriage equality, indicated that Judge Jacobson’s denial was expected. He said:

“We hope that the [state] Supreme Court will take the case quickly so that the full constitutional issues that are now presented can be heard." 6

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Krista Jenkins, "Voters approve of gay marriage decision...," PublicMind, 2013-OCT-08, at:
  2. Kate Zernike, "In New Jersey Debate, a State Senator Tries to Deflate a Confident Christie," New York Times, 2013-OCT-08, at:
  3. Kevin Conlon, "New Jersey judge paves way for same-sex marriages," CNN, 2013-OCT-10, at:
  4. "NJ advocates ask judge not to delay gay marriage," Asbury Park Press, 2013-OCT-04, at:
  5. Thomas Zambito, "N.J. same-sex marriage debate is background noise for judge with Bayonne roots," Star-Ledger, 2013-OCT-13, at:
  6. Matt Hamilton, "New Jersey Supreme Court to hear gay marriage case," Garden State Equality, 2013-OCT-11, at:

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Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM Menu > New Jersey > here

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2013-OCT-09
Latest update: 2013-OCT-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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